“Help me help you!”: How to help your leader

Remember the famous scene from Jerry MaGuire when Jerry is on his knees begging Rod Tidwell to “Help me help you!” in response to his “show me the money” tirade? Well, this applies to leaders because we all need others to help us. We are not “there yet” when it comes to leadership and each day is an opportunity to get a little better, but we can’t do this in a silo, but we need to help others help us.  

One of the most important things I’ve learned about leading others over the years is I have gaps in my leadership. I have areas of weakness and areas where I can improve, leading to more effectiveness at leading others. To increase self awareness of these issues I need others to help me see them. I need feedback from those I lead.

For leaders, here are a few suggestions on how to let those who follow you help you become a better, more effective leader.

 ·         Open your door: If you have a closed door then chances are you will be perceived as a closed person. This will choke the feedback you need to be effective as a leader. Open your door and make sure people know they are welcome to approach you at any point with any topic.

An unapproachable leader is an ineffective leader. I’ve learned this one the hard way. 

·         Ask the question: If you don’t ask the question you probably won’t get an answer. Ask for feedback from those who follow you. This gives them the opportunity and context to help you out. We all should create a leadership culture that invites others to share feedback and feel comfortable doing so.  

·         Be humble: If you want to never get feedback just be an arrogant leader. Arrogance will scare followers away and make them fearful to approach you and give you feedback. Humility is a primary characteristic I look for when recruiting leaders and is a primary characteristic in creating an environment when others help you.

·         Admit mistakes: We all make mistakes and those who follow us see us make mistakes. When this happens use it as an opportunity to gather feedback from others. This will be a reflection of humility.

To look at it another way, in some capacity all of us are followers and have a distinct responsibility to help our leaders. Do you realize the power you have to make the person you lead better at what they do? Don’t underestimate this. You have valuable insight into their leadership that could help them tremendously.

As a follower, are you helping your leader get better?

As a leader, are you inviting those who follow you to help you get better at leading?

Discussion Question: What other suggestions do you have that will help leaders create a culture that invites feedback?  

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One Response to “Help me help you!”: How to help your leader

  1. John says:

    This gets really sticky when people are fearful for their jobs. Leaders should find a way to make it clear, and restate often, that constructive criticism about them and their leadership will never be grounds for disciplinary action. Otherwise, they are likely to never gain feedback from those they lead in a business setting. Going a step further is inviting this kind of feedback. Employee surveys are good, but they tend to regard the company as a whole, not a leader as an individual.

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